Republican congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida currently under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department on allegations that he used Apple Pay and Cash App to pay several women for sexual encounters at different Florida hotels, including reportedly a 17-year-old girl.
Gaetz has denied the allegations.
The allegations have shed light on the website Seeking Arrangement, a dating website that Gaetz was said to have used to meet the women.
Seeking Arrangement has grown to become one of the most popular websites for sugar babies looking for wealthy people to date. It started services in 2006.
The platform was built for men to meet attractive women who are "just starting out," according to its website.
Sugaring is a dynamic in which a "sugar baby," usually someone younger and more attractive, exchanges companionship, an emotional connection, and sometimes sexual intimacy for presents, trips, dinners, and cash from a sugar daddy. Sugar daddies are usually older, wealthier men with successful careers.
Many sugar babies and sugar daddies regard their relationship as a partnership, with the exchange of material goods coming second to romantic chemistry.
One popular misconception about Seeking Arrangement is that it is only for sex workers or sugar babies.
Seeking Arrangement has stated since its creation that it does not provide a space for sex work. Its terms of service also forbid "escorting, prostitution, and human trafficking."
Although it is a popular sugar baby destination, and some sugar babies do consider themselves sex workers, the platform is open to everyone. According to the site, any account that directly discusses trading money for sex will be suspended or deleted.
No charges have been brought against Gaetz, and the extent of his criminal exposure is unclear. The congressman has denied ever paying for sex or sleeping with a 17-year-old as an adult.
A statement from his office to The New York Times also said, "Matt Gaetz has never ever been on any such websites whatsoever."
According to Politico, it's possible that one of his political associates was using the site on his behalf. Gaetz, however, has admitted to paying for flights and hotel rooms for the women he has dated.